The education minister is meeting with the State Exams Commission to discuss contingency plans for those due to sit their Junior and Leaving Cert exams this year.
As it stands, the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert oral and practical examinations are scheduled to start in all second-level schools on Monday March 23 and run until Friday April 3.
Education minister Joe McHugh said contingency arrangements are being worked out in relation to the State education exams.
This is the right decision at the right time. It is taken in the best interests of our children, our young people, our school and college communities and our wider societyJoe McHugh, education minister
It comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced all schools, colleges and creches will close for a fortnight in response to the Covid-19 outbreak from 6pm on Thursday evening until March 29.
Mr McHugh said he is “deeply conscious” of the impact the closures will have on pupils, but said it is a “necessary and proportionate measure”.
The Department of Education said all pupils, from pre-school to third level, are urged to practice social distancing and minimise physical contact with each other.
In a statement, the department said in order to minimise the impact on teaching, schools will be asked to continue to plan lessons and provide online resources where possible.
It added: “Schools are asked to prioritise supporting exam classes to continue to prepare for State examinations.”
Mr McHugh said of the school closures: “This is the right decision at the right time. It is taken in the best interests of our children, our young people, our school and college communities and our wider society.”
He said students should take their books and learning materials home with them on Thursday evening.
He added: “This is a time where we all need to work together for the best possible outcome for our students. The support of everyone across the sector is vital as we all strive to ensure that this threat is dealt with as effectively as possible.”
Irish National Teachers’ Organisation general secretary John Boyle described it as “an important and timely decision”, adding: “I know our members will all rise to the challenge we face, in the proudest tradition of our profession, as we grapple with this unprecedented public health crisis.”